North American Butterflies and Moths List

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The Registry of Nature Habitats

U.S. Geological Survey

Butterflies of North America

Plains Skipper (Hesperia assiniboia)
JPG -- species photo

Plains Skipper (Hesperia assiniboia [Lyman])

Wing span: 13/16 - 1 1/4 inches (2.1 - 3.0 cm).

Identification: Antennae relatively long. Wing fringes white or pale. Upperside with tawny areas reduced giving dark appearance. On underside of hindwing chevron of small separate white or yellowish spots, often grouped. Spots sometimes absent.

Life history: To await receptive females, males perch near the host plant or on ridges. Females scatter eggs on or near the host; caterpillars eat leaves and live in nests of tied leaves. Eggs overwinter.

Flight: One flight from late June to early September.

Caterpillar hosts: Various grasses and possibly sedges.

Adult food: Nectar from many flowers including asters, goldenrods, and blazing star.

Habitat: Native short- or mid-grass prairies and aspen parkland.

Range: Southern Canadian prairie provinces and northern plains states.

Conservation: Not usually required.

The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.

Management needs: None reported.


Layberry, R.A., P.W. Hall, and J.D. Lafontaine. 1998. The Butterflies of Canada. 
     University of Toronto Press, Toronto. 282 pages, 32 color plates.

MacNeill, C.D. 1975. Skippers (Hesperioidea). In: W.H. Howe, editor. Butterflies 
     of North America. Doubleday and Co., Garden City, New York, 633 pages.

Opler, P.A. 1999. A field guide to western butterflies.  Houghton-Mifflin Co., 
     Boston, Mass. 540 pages, 44 color plates.

Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, 
     Stanford, Calif. 583 pages, 64 color plates.

Stanford, R. E. and P. A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of western USA butterflies including 
     adjacent parts of Canada and Mexico. Denver and Fort Collins, CO. 

Author: Paul A. Opler

Plains Skipper (Hesperia assiniboia)
distribution map
map legend

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